Alvin Hall In The Bonfire Of The Vanities


01The Bronx20120312

Tom Wolfe described 1980s Bronx as a crime-ridden place of despair. Crack dealers on every corner, horrifying crimes every day, and a justice system which could do little to improve it.

Harlem's revitalised, and New York is renowned for its safety- is the Bronx now a great place to live? Alvin Hall visits the site of Sherman McCoy's disastrous wrong turn and ventures further into the borough to where whole streets' worth of apartment buildings were burnt out 25 years ago, to discover what's replaced them.

Speaking to a local priest, photographer and environmental activist, he asks whether a Sherman McCoy today would feel as threatened if he took the wrong lane on the route back to Manhattan from JFK Airport.

Produced by Lucy Lloyd.

Is the Bronx still the site of moral and physical desolation? Alvin Hall takes a tour.

02Wall Street20120313

The Bonfire of The Vanities told the story of rich Wall Street bond trader Sherman McCoy being involved in a hit-and-run with a young black man in the Bronx, and the dramatic fall out that follows.

Sherman's arrogance led to him being there, and his Wall Street success led to his arrogance. Are there still Sherman McCoy's populating Wall Street today, 25 years after the publication of Tom Wolfe's novel?

Alvin asks, with Occupy Wall Street, and the implosion of many of the finance companies in New York, whether we've seen the end of the 'Masters of the Universe'.

Produced by Lucy Lloyd.

Do arrogant traders like Bonfire's Sherman McCoy still populate Wall Street today?


Tom Wolfe wrote of the procession of young black men being jolted through the criminal justice system in New York, and particularly the Bronx, as a depressing, and relentless, spectacle. 1980's New York was renowned for its crime, but today it is supposed to be cleaned up.

Alvin Hall asks how much really has changed since those dark days, visiting the courthouse in the Bronx, speaking to legal contemporaries of characters in the book and then asking the truth of what's changed from a younger member of the current generation of lawyers.

Produced by Lucy Lloyd.

Alvin Hall explores the changing role of race in the New York justice system.

04English Journalists In New York20120315

The Bonfire of The Vanities portrayed New York as a turbulent melting pot of inequality, arrogance and greed: 25 years on Alvin Hall continues to ask how much has changed.

Amongst the colourful New Yorkers portrayed in Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities, was one Brit- the drunken and snobbish Peter Fallow. Dragged into covering the story of the hit-and-run in the Bronx despite himself, he ends up leading the media and driving forward the tale.

Alvin Hall tracks down the journalist who supposedly inspired Peter Fallow, and hears the New York experience of other English journalists in the past 25 years, to see whether their reputation as hard drinking culturally superior party animals still holds fast.

With Toby Young and Anthony Haden-Guest.

Produced by Lucy Lloyd.

The English Journalist in New York - still the socialite around town?

05 LASTThe Politics Of The Case20120316

A rich Wall Street trader being involved in a hit-and-run in the Bronx set off a cascade of racial grievances, political manipulation and media delirium in Tom Wolfe's depiction of 1980s New York.

Alvin Hall asks how differently a case like this would play out today. He talks to former mayor Ed Koch about trying to control the media, and lawyers and journalists about what part race and money would play in the unfolding of the story today.

Produced by Lucy Lloyd.

Race, politics and justice - Alvin asks whether they are as intertwined in New York today.